Push for More People with Disabilities on IA Boards, Commissions
Monday, July 19, 2021
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa's government has 180 boards and commissions, with many consisting of appointed members, but advocates fear most don't include people with disabilities.
An emerging effort aims to get more of these voices to serve on public panels.
The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council recently adopted its latest five-year plan, which outlines the organization's top goals. A new focus is increasing participation in local and state boards and commissions.
Brooke Lovelace, executive director of the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, said there has not been much tracking of the issue. While there are some disability-specific panels, she contended the community should push to be part of decision-making in all areas.
"Boards and commissions that folks with disability should be applying for and serving on and something that's of interest to them," Lovelace outlined. "Whether that be economic development, the art council."
Lovelace argued not having influence can derail progress for the disability community, such as the recent election law adopted by Iowa. Among other things, it places restrictions on ballot drop boxes.
The council is having conversations with the governor's office, which appoints members, about increasing inclusion. There's also an online talent bank launched by the Human Rights Department in 2019, designed to encourage underserved Iowans to consider openings.
Monica Stone, deputy director of the Department, said the talent bank started shortly before the pandemic, so they have not been able to get a clear sense yet of how effective it is. But she added they are trying to increase awareness, noting a challenge is convincing those with disabilities they don't have to have a lengthy background in a specific area to be considered.
"I think sometimes people think you have to be something more special in order to put your name in the hat," Stone observed. "And the truth is, the people who serve on appointed boards and commissions are special because they choose to spend their time with public service, but they are everyday Iowans."
Similar efforts have occurred in states like Pennsylvania, which launched the Inclusive Leadership in Action project.
The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council believes it is still an overlooked issue, and said the Hawkeye State could serve as a leader in gathering firm data while boosting recruitment.
Disclosure: Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities, Health Issues, and Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, when the Drug Enforcement Administration encourages everyone to clean out …
Health and Wellness
BALTIMORE - This month marks the four-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, and an art project aims to help incarcerated survivors heal by telling …
OGDEN, Utah - Utah is one of only a handful of states that taxes food, but one state legislator says taxing groceries should become a thing of the …
CASPER, Wyo. - A strong majority of voters across party lines say they want national rules similar to those passed in Wyoming to reduce methane …
Health and Wellness
ARLINGTON, Va. - Although COVID-19 rates have gone down, the virus continues to hit the Hispanic community especially hard. Now, a new campaign aims …
BISMARCK, N.D. - A portion of American Rescue Plan funding sent to North Dakota has yet to be divvied up. Groups that want to improve the child-care …
PITTSBURGH - As businesses across the country deal with a massive labor shortage, Pennsylvania aims to entice people back to the workplace by …
ALBANY, N.Y. - Environmental groups want Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that mandates monitoring the state's drinking water for "emerging …